This Tuesday on February 24, 2015, "the kinky film festival" CineKink NYC opens its 12th season. On occasion of my own film being in this year's lineup, I asked CineKink founder Lisa Vandever these 7 questions:
MN: I know you have answered this elsewhere but it needs to be addressed; what is CineKink and how did it start?
LV: CineKink - also known as the kinky film festival - celebrates and explores a wide range of sexuality. It grew out of my combined interests in film and in sex, and an activist's desire to encourage works that took a positive spin on sexuality.
MN: I attended my first CineKink a few years ago by invite of our friends Julie Keck and Jessica King. It's becoming something of a New York institution. How many CineKinks is this for you in how many cities?
LV: Initially it was just something fun to put together, but we're going into our twelfth season this year. We began the touring aspect a couple of years into it, taking around some of the more popular works from the NYC festival. We've been in Portland, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco/Oakland, Las Vegas and DC. And recently made it overseas to Berlin and Australia.
MN: What is the criteria which you choose the films from?
LV: To start, it's like curating any film festival. I'm looking at the quality of a work, how it holds together, whether there's a compelling story. And then, beyond that, there's the consideration of whether a work is sex-positive or not. So much out there about sex is so negative and shaming. It's not quite the Hays Code, but there still persists the notion that sexual pleasure often brings with it some type of punishment.
MN: What are some of your favorites in this year's program?
LV: Oh, I never have favorites!
MN: I see what you are doing as a way to move sex positive films out of the underground and into a place where new viewers can feel comfortable with sex on the screen. Do you view your work in a similar light?
LV: Exactly! What I'm trying to do is create a space where folks can expand their conversation about sexuality, consider new angles and possibilities. And also see some of themselves in others, even if a particular kink doesn't directly appeal to them.
MN: Lastly I am interested in how you have handled opposition to your festival. I have surprisingly had very little of it making a documentary about Hustler Magazine. Do you think the times are changing for the better?
LV: We've never really had any direct opposition - and actually, would love it if someone like Focus on Family or some such came out against us. I don't know about changing for the better, though. Even though we're living in seemingly open and frank times, there's so much corporate censorship that goes on behind the scenes. Like other sex-positive enterprises, it can be a real hardship for us to find vendors and platforms that don't outright restrict adult materials.
MN: Is there anything you want the readers to know?
LV: Just that the CineKink experience is very accessible. The thought of watching sexy stuff with strangers can be a little unnerving, but it's such a lovely, accepting crowd!
My documentary about my Dad and Hustler Magazine, Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story is having its New York premiere at CineKink NYC on February 26, 2015 at Anthology Film Archives 32 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003. Get tickets here.